Arkansas’ Insurance Commissioner is attempting to rally support from state lawmakers to help establish a health insurance exchange. Commissioner Jay Bradford is urging legislators to back a grant application that, if approved, would bring $3.8 million in federal funding to the state. Arkansas lawmakers have been leery of the federally mandated insurance exchanges due to their association with the controversial Affordable Care Act, which the state opposes. Governor Mike Beebe has said that he will not seek out federal funding unless the state’s Legislature shows support for an exchange.
The money would help the state construct an insurance exchange, which is meant to help residents find affordable health insurance that they may not have access to currently. Commissioner Bradford believes that an exchange would be beneficial to residents but his efforts to get an exchange established in the state have been sidelined by indecision from legislators. At this point, Bradford is only seeking approval to continue planning an exchange, and will not be using any of the money to actual build the system.
Arkansas is not alone in its wariness of the federal health care law. Several states stand in opposition to the law, including Florida and Virginia. Despite the opposition, however, states are required to establish a working insurance exchange themselves or the federal government will do it for them.
Commissioner Bradford has until the end of this week to submit the application, with approval from lawmakers, or the state will miss the deadline for the grant money.